Learning as we teach

I have two posts saved from Seth Godin’s blog that speak to how to apply someone else’s ideas or experiences to a new situation.

The first, Exactly the same vs. exactly different is something I’m glad to now be able to pull out whenever I hear someone at a conference or other PD event say, “Well, that wouldn’t work at my school because I have more/fewer students, we have/don’t have block scheduling, my teachers wouldn’t be interested, etc.”

And I want to say, of course that project won’t work the same way at your school–you work at a different school. And you’re a different person. But if you like the idea there is likely something you could take and adapt and make work you and your unique situation. You take what you’ve learned about your students, your colleagues, your school, and yourself and see where this new idea fits. Yes, it would sometimes be nice to have a step-by-step formula to follow, but teaching is as much (or more) art as it is science.

Hidden under the insistence of “that wouldn’t work in my situation” is, for many, the underlying fear that if it doesn’t work, you’ve “failed.” And the first time you try something it might not go well. It might be a disaster. But you can take what didn’t work and fix it, and take what did work and make it better. And the next time it will go better. And even better the time after that. Sure, it’s messy. Learning often is.

By saying to ourselves “it has to go perfectly the first time I try it or it was a waste of time” we end up modeling terrible learning behaviors for our students.

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